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F-15C Eagles “take the cable” when CE tests emergency arresting system

173rd CE

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, touches down with its tail hook deployed in order to take the cable during an arresting cable system test, March 7, 2019. The system, designed to stop an aircraft during an emergency landing, requires an annual test to ensure safe operation. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

173rd CE

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eduardo Calderon, the sole arresting system certifier at the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Oregon, emerges from an underground room after inspecting the emergency arresting system following a test of the system at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, March 7, 2019. It is necessary to construct the rooms underground because the airfield is required to be flat and without obstruction, particularly this close to the active runway. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

173rd CE

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eduardo Calderon, the sole arresting system certifier at the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Oregon, describes the checks he conducts to another member of the civil engineer squadron to the braking mechanisms located in underground rooms on either side of the runway. The equipment consists of large braking drums as well as four-cylinder, gas motors needed to retract the cable after deploying to stop an aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

173rd CE

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eduardo Calderon, the sole arresting system certifier at the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Oregon, documents that the system functioned perfectly during a test March 7, 2019. The test, required annually, showed that the system remains in good operating order and is ready for an emergency landing whenever necessary. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

173rd CE

Kingsley Field Firefighters reset the center cable of the barrier arresting system used for emergency landings following an actual test where an F-15 took the cable March 7, 2019 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon. These rubber holders allow the cable to be stored in the groove between the steel plates and raise it when the air traffic control tower prepares for an emergency. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

173rd CE

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eduardo Calderon, 173rd Civil Engineering Squadron’s sole arresting system certifier at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, inspects the emergency cable arresting system following a test March 7, 2019. The test, required annually, showed that the system remains in good operating order and is ready for an emergency landing whenever necessary. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

173rd CE

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, takes the cable during a test of the emergency landing system, March 7, 2019. The test, required annually, showed that the system remains in good operating order and is ready for an emergency landing whenever necessary. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore.– A 173rd Fighter Wing F-15 Eagle drops into the pattern over Kingsley Field making its final approach in what promises to be a very dramatic and unusual landing, March 7, 2019.

This aircraft is performing a test of the system designed to help a damaged aircraft make a safe landing, a critical emergency system called a barrier arrestor. The very first indicator that anything is amiss is the tail hook extended toward the ground, extending below the landing gear wheels, as the aircraft settles toward the surface.

It’s rare to see an F-15C with a tail hook like a Navy aircraft, but today it descended—tail hook deployed—and after touching down caught the arresting cable and came to a very rapid stop.

“He hit it at 138 knots, his weight was 32,500 lbs. and we stopped him in 971 feet,” said Staff Sgt. Eduardo Calderon, who is the sole certifier at Kingsley Field for barrier arresting system.  He adds that it is exactly what the system is designed to do, and that it could withstand far greater forces than that, repeatedly.

The basic set up consists of a cable attached at either end with a flat nylon webbing “tape”, which is wound onto large, metal drums housed in underground, bunker-like rooms located on either side of the runway. When the cable is engaged these drums function as brakes allowing the cable to spool out, slowing the aircraft, but not so quickly as to injure the pilot or damage the airframe.

“When the system hasn’t been engaged in 12 months we conduct an engagement,” said Calderon. “What we are looking for is that both units are very close to each other, they should allow the nylon webbing tape to play out an a nearly identical rate.”

Other parts of the system include a system which raises the cable just above the runway surface when an aircraft is making an emergency landing and two four-cylinder gas motors needed to retract the cable following its use.

He went on to say that this engagement was unusual.

“Typically a certification engagement happens with the aircraft on the ground, but the way he took it was just like a real-world scenario, right after he touched down,” said Calderon. “You don’t get to experience that very often.”

After the engagement he and a group of firefighters, who also fall under 173rd Civil Engineering Squadron, reset the system for the next engagement. It may be a year away when the next test is due, but if it’s before that in an actual emergency Calderon has ensured the system is ready.

 

 

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